On a Leash: Dog Bite Insurance Claim Trends

May 15, 2013

  • May 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm
    NG says:
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    Americans aren’t giving up their dogs. Carriers should have a plan to charge an additional premium not cancel or refuse to write by breed. It isn’t always the breed; it’s the breeding. Temperament drives bites, not solely breed. The AKC Good Citizen is a good reflector of a dog’s temperament. That could easily be used in underwriting guidelines. Carriers should stop barking and take some steps to mitigate risk and underwrite with common sense guidelines.

    • May 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm
      DougJ says:
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      Sounds like all of my prospects who have Pit Bulls.

  • May 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm
    Kathy Hath says:
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    What dogs breeds are most responsible?

    • May 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm
      Sharp teets says:
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      obviously something with a big chest and pointed head, so they can call it a Pitbull.

      • May 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm
        Agent says:
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        Carriers have lists of undesirable dogs they don’t like. Pit Bulls have the worst reputation followed by Doberman’s, German Shepherds, Chow’s and a few other breeds. One of our carriers did an inspection on a home and found a 13 year old Shepherd that was blind, had arthritis and asked off the business. We had a tough time with that, but got it reversed.

  • May 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm
    Dave says:
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    I wonder how much of this arises from thugs who have dogs either as guard dogs or use them in dog fighting. I see the top two states are also the states with the two most gang riddled cities, Los Angeles and Chicago. I wonder how much that has to do with it.

    • May 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm
      Compman says:
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      Most thugs don’t carry insurance. they carry guns.

      • May 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm
        Dave says:
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        Good point Compman.

    • May 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm
      Agent says:
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      I wonder how many dogs have prevented home invasions by thugs intent on robbing someone or doing them harm. Dogs can serve a useful purpose to protect a family. I never had a problem when I had my German Shepherd. He never bit anyone, but if I were a bad guy, I wouldn’t have wanted to test him.

      • May 16, 2013 at 11:12 am
        Dog-loving Agent says:
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        When we carelessly left our front door unlocked and a punk walked in, our Golden Retriever heard him and tore out of the bedroom, barking loudly. The intruder departed quickly, leaving the front door open and dropping a bottle of wine on our porch. He held on to my husband’s new (not-yet activated) cell phone, the old phone, and his wallet, and he left an almost full 16-ounce can of BudLight on the porch railing. When Midas hears someone coming to the door, he alerts, then wags his tail vigorously as soon as he knows the visitor is a friend. He’s a registered Therapy Dog and a Canine Good Citizen.

        I agree with NG; often it’s not the breed but the training, or lack of it, and irresponsible owners.

    • May 15, 2013 at 5:34 pm
      Agent says:
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      I saw a similar article on another site and it listed the top breeds for bites. Included from the other ones I listed were Rottwilers, Husky breeds, Malamutes. It also listed the top 10 states for bites. It is interesting that at least 2/3rds of the worst states were blue states including California, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania & Florida. I concluded that a lot of residents in these states think they have to have a vicious dog to protect their family since they have very strict gun laws there.

  • May 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm
    Mark Komar says:
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    Salient points not addressed by just listing states and numbers are which need to be taken into consideration 1) Number of reported bites per 1000 people since the states listed have huge population disparities. 2) Location of these bites such as urban/city areas versus rural areas. 3) Type of situation resulting in bite 4) Number of bites by dogs who have previously bitten someone. It is important that data used for underwriting purposes be as specific and comprehensive as possible.

    • May 17, 2013 at 7:52 am
      jw says:
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      I’m also curious about denied claims because the dog was an excluded breed. Did excluding breeds reduce the claim expense or not?

  • May 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm
    Sharp teets says:
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    This article could have focused on the number of claims going down instead of average settlements going up 4 bucks. I guess this is more sensational and will attract more readers.

    #funwithnumbers

    • May 15, 2013 at 6:06 pm
      Agent says:
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      It could be the Tort Laws that are responsible for the average claims rising in many of these states. Lawyers just love this kind of thing so they can milk it for whatever they can get.

  • May 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm
    Al E. Gator says:
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    Stop messin’ around, y’all, and forget about what breed does the job better, or how to rate ‘em.

    Ain’t NO breed doing it better than us gators. And we ain’t excluded!

    Piranha; they just a nasty mess. Don’t put ‘em in your koi ponds and expect them to keep your house safe. Unless them burglers is getting tripped by wires and fallin into the pool. Which isn’t a good way to treat an inlaw, much less a crumminal. Attractive nuisance, too, for the neighborhood kiddies.

    Us gators got STYLE and CLASS and a touch of SASS. Plus, you get one you don’t like, the local car shop can makem into a handbag plus a couple a dozen shoes and belts for holiday time. The, you gets a new gator!

    Peace, y’all.

    • May 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm
      Agent says:
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      You are a funny guy Gator. Do you make appearances on Duck Dynasty or Swamp People? I can see you floating down the bayou in your flat bottomed boat looking for gators.

      • May 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm
        SteveB says:
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        I watched 3 minutes of Duck Dynasty – it is 3 minutes of my life I will never get back!

        • May 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm
          Agent says:
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          I don’t watch it, but know people that are addicted to it. They also may be addicted to Dancing with the Stars or Bachelor or Bachelorette. Perhaps it is escapism from reality.

  • May 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm
    pski says:
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    This appears to be incomplete information. Assuming there is an increase in population and insureds, maybe dogs, it appears the rate of incidents has likely decreased. The rate of severity increase seems minimal relative to general inflation. Medical costs do not jump out.

    Though I have been in compliance and product development for several years now, my prior experience in claims is that the breed of dog directly affects severity significantly. It is not always the frequency. Defending a case involving bite and grip injuries from a Pitbull or German Shepard is much more difficult than where a retriever snaps and releases a leg when stepped on. The issue of dogs curtailing break-ins seems quite reasonable. I have the opinion that template underwriting of residential exposures limits many details that can provide useful differentiation.

    Seems to be an area where some work could produce new opportunities to service and sell residential and umbrella policies.

  • May 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm
    DougJ says:
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    All of my prospects who have these dogs tell me their dog is Special. And then the underwriter says “I don’t care”.

    We have had several kids mauled and one or two killed in Harris county just in the past month or so, in rural areas. I am sure much of the time there is no insurance on these dwellings where these dogs and their people live.

  • May 16, 2013 at 9:04 am
    CB says:
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    Agree with pksi. There is incomplete information here. Does the rise in claims correlate with the rise in pet ownership? Is there a particular breed driving the increase in claims? Does the number of claims correspond to the number of plaintiff attorneys in the given state? More holes in this story than the Swiss cheese on my sandwich.

    • May 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm
      Compman says:
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      yuummmm. Sandwich.



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